The first time I encountered the word “rooting” was from my old boss, back when I was still working as a writer for a magazine. We were eating lunch together and we were talking about random life stuff when she blurted out, “Shouldn’t you be rooting by now?”
I was confused with her question and I couldn’t quite get it. Did she mean getting married and having kids? Was she referring to me about being indecisive about my career path? I just turned 27 then and although I had a boyfriend, I had no plans of settling down yet at that time. After spending 8 years in college, I was taking graduate courses while working for her. I wasn’t so serious about finishing my Masters degree either that from my boss’ perspective, I was a lost sheep trying to find my way home.
While I moved on from my old boss and left my stint as a writer, the question of rooting stayed and bothered me since. It comes up on life-changing moments and big decisions in my life.
This question is also a favorite discussion topic with my best friend who as it turned out is also pondering on the same. We would revisit the topic for years, hoping to understand the enigma that surrounds it.
So, what does “rooting” really means?
I used to define it as literally to take root in one place. I thought I needed to choose a place where I want to stay and live there until I die. At one point, I defined it as having a family, being financially stable, and starting a life with someone.
The dictionary definition of rooting means to establish deeply and firmly. In my quest to better understand it and how it relates to my life, an epiphany came to me one day. I was listening to Marianne Williamson’s audiobook, Tears to Triumph, and she said a line that struck me.
“A house comes down when the foundation is rotten.”
That line also reminded me of what BKS Iyengar said in his book, The Tree of Yoga. He talked about the Eight Limbs of Yoga or the path that forms the framework of yoga practice. The first limb or step is called yama. BKS Iyengar used the metaphor of a tree to illustrate the eight steps and yama represents the roots. He stresses that learning and embodying the fundamental principles of yoga can strongly build the foundation as one progresses in her practice.
I understood it as the body being the house and if the foundation is not strong enough, it will easily topple down. At the same time, a house that is not taken cared of is prone to termites and this rotten foundation will not last either.
That was my A-ha moment!
I realized that rooting doesn’t mean being in one place or earning good money or raising a family.
Rooting means building a strong foundation within.
If the roots are not deep enough, no matter how big and sturdy the tree looks from the outside, it will fall.
In my case, I’m building my foundation through yoga, prayer and meditation. These practices allow me to establish my roots deeply and firmly, so no matter the storm, my house will not fall easily to the ground.
Rooting also means reconnecting with your deepest Self. As my best friend puts it, it’s remembering who you are and going back to your authentic place and doing what you really love. It’s knowing and accepting yourself fully.
Once your foundation is strong, you also achieve inner freedom. You're no longer confined in a physical place because you're deeply rooted to the core of your being. Wherever you are and whatever you do, you remain steadfast and unmoved; because you know you're finally home.